TCL, a fast-growing television manufacturer in the U.S., is cracking the wireless earbuds market with the TCL SOCL500TWS, a set of wireless earbuds that include robust sound, long-use rechargeable case, and an ergonomic fit.
The SOCL500TWS has form and function out of the box. The translucent plastic case has a snap lid and a physical button on the back that, when clicked, illuminates battery life with up to four orange dots. Earbuds hold a 6.5-hour battery on a single charge for up to 26 hours of playback. In addition, a 15-minute quick charge can yield an hour of playback. A drawback is the case feels inexpensive.
Open the lid and the two earbuds sit securely on gold contact pins. While the TCL SOCL500TWS didn’t have a problem connecting via Bluetooth 5.0, it didn’t automatically connect each time they were taken out of the case. At times they needed to physically rest on the phone screen to connect, or a button needed to be held on the right earbud to reconfirm the connection.
Ergonomically, the TCL SOCL500TWS shines. The product includes three ear tips for a more customized fit. After a small twist, the earbuds rest each in ear securely. The strong fit resulted in great noise isolation and felt comfortable even in lengthy playback sessions.
The side of each earbud contains a clickable rubber button that can control volume, calls, and voice assistant initiation for Siri or Google. While I didn’t mind holding the earbud and clicking the button with my index finger, some buyers may prefer tap controls rather than physical buttons.
The SOCL500TWS includes 5.8mm speaker drivers that provide impressively robust sound, particularly on lower base notes and rumbles. However, the emphasis on lower levels tended to diminish treble. For example, in a view of The Mandalorian, explosions sounded great with deep, subwoofer-like buzz, but higher pitch noises like blasters, clanks, and sparks were subdued.
The final product is IPX4-rated water repellent for some welcome outdoor protection against the elements.
The TCL SOCL500TWS Wireless Earbuds are a solid set for buyers. Despite some audio drawbacks, the overall sound package combined with its impressive 26-hour playback time and comfortable fit provide a functional option for avid audiophiles.
It sells at $79.95.